Top 50 the goal for McGinley

It might take a walk on the wild card side but Paul McGinley still believes he can make his fourth successive Ryder Cup appearance at Valhalla in September.

But with five months to go before the team is finalised following the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, the 41-year-old knows he has to “get stuck in” quickly if he is to book his place on the plane to Kentucky.

The odds are heavily stacked against the dapper Dubliner, who is 149th in the world rankings and more than 380,000 points behind 10th ranked Soren Hansen of Denmark at 29th in the Ryder Cup European Points list.

Yet McGinley knows that a big summer could make a world of difference to his chances and even put him in the frame for one of two captain’s picks.

“I have a chance of making the team right up to the very end, even if I am way off the pace,” McGinley said in Estoril. “If I happen to win during the last couple of weeks, I am going to have a chance for a pick having played the last three Ryder Cups.

“But the Ryder Cup is the last thing on my mind. I am so far of the pace that it is not a realistic goal at the moment. It isn't even on the horizon. I have got to get a lot closer.”

Down to 149th in the world from a career-high 16th less than three years ago, McGinley has decided to focus on getting back into the world’s top 50 and let the Ryder Cup take care of itself.

“That's more important than Ryder Cup because it opens up other doors in terms of qualifying for the majors and all the world events,” he added. “Once you do that everything else falls into place. But I have to get stuck in and do things and I am starting to do that. I am starting to turn it around and my underlying form is good.”

Third behind Graeme McDowell in the Ballantine’s Championship on his last European Tour appearance three weeks ago, McGinley faces an uphill task in Ryder Cup terms as he has not qualified for next week’s US Masters and may have to pre-qualify for the Open and the US Open as well.

He explained: “It is not about playing well in these type of tournaments and finishing 10th or 12th. It is about performing well in the big tournaments and a lot of guys are getting big jumps of six figures because they are playing in world events that I am not in

“I am in none of the majors. Ryder Cup status doesn't get you into anything. So I have to get myself in position.”

Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, is hoping to feed of pal Oliver Fisher’s second place finish in last week’s Open de Andalucia, where he finished tied 39th to end a run of three successive missed cuts.

“Very few people have come from where I have come from and gone straight to the top of the professional game,” McIlroy said. “You just have to be patient and bide your time and hopefully it will come good in the end

“I am hitting it nicely and you don't have to do much right to finish well on these golf courses either. It is just trying to get off to a good start and then trying to sustain it for four days.”